Monday, March 13, 2006

The team that fell to earth

I didn't see any of last nights game at Osasuna, I was watching the Juve-Milan game (an entertaining 0-0 draw) so aside from lamenting the loss and the sending off of both Edmilson and Motta I can't really comment other than to say because of the Valencia - Real result on Saturday, 0-0 with the Ronaldo missing a last minute penatly, Barcelona are still nine points ahead.

Getting back to the Champions League draw on Friday and to Benfica. I've not seen a great deal of Koemans side this season bar the two games against United in the group stages and highlights of their win at Anfield but I've been reasonably impressed. Simao has really matured since he left Barça. Petit is superb in the holding role in midfield and both Nuno Gomes and Miccoli are decent strikers. Another ex-blaugrana, Geovanni, is a fairly nippy right winger. That said, their defence is nothing to write home about and their form in the Portugese league has been poor (they're currently third in what's typically a three horse race between themselves, Sporting and Porto). Even with Messi out I don't see them keeping out 'dinho, Eto'o and Larsson. Of seven teams that Barça could have faced, Benifca are probably the weakest and unless Koeman himself steps up and takes a few freekicks I don't give them much of a chance.

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